By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Another up-and-coming rider has made it clear he wants a shot at winning the 2020 Rookie of the Year award.
A week after Andrew Alvdirez threw his name into the hat with a second-place finish, this weekend at the PBR Lucas Oil Invitational in Des Moines, Iowa, it was Alex Cerqueira.
Cerqueira rode Godzilla for 87.75 points to cap off his 2-for-3 weekend, and the 65 world points he earned pushed him into second place in the Rookie of the Year race.
“This was like being back at home for this guy,” two-time World Champion Justin McBride said on CBS Sports Network. “He cut his teeth getting on bulls like this in Brazil. Bigger, taller, lankier bulls that are slower and got some hang time to them. That was just a day off for Cerqueira there. Good ride. He even gives him some business at the end. He is in some complete control from start to finish. Bad getoff, but great ride.”
The 27-year-old trails Rookie of the Year leader Cole Melancon, who was not cleared to compete this weekend, by 54 points with four regular-season Unleash The Beast events remaining until the World Finals.
Top 5 Rookie of the Year Contenders
Cole Melancon (302.5 points)
Alex Cerqueira (-54 points)
Mauricio Moreira (-80.67 points)
Andrew Alvidrez (-88.34 points)
Joao Henrique Lucas (-151.59 points)
2013 Rookie of the Year winner Joao Ricardo Vieira said last week that Cerqueira was one of the new riders on tour this season that he was excited to see finish out the second half.
Vieira was 29 years old when he won the rookie title, so he understands what it is like for Cerqueira being the oldest rookie contender among the top four riders eligible for the award and learning to adjust to competing in the United States. Melancon is 26 years old.
“He was a great bull rider in Brazil, but here he has been so-so this year,” Vieira said. “I think he needs more time to get better. He is 27 and an older rookie, but he has good potential.”
Cerqueira previously posted a runner-up finish this past May at another PBR Lucas Oil Invitational – this one in Guthrie, Oklahoma – by going 3-for-3 and riding three-time World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser for 91.25 points.
The 27-year-old benefitted from a season-low of qualified rides (13) this weekend in Des Moines, and his decision to keep a 69-point score on Bad Boujee in Round 1 helped him finish second overall. Cerqueira turned down a re-ride option in Round 1, and he would have had to be 93.75 points on his re-ride to have usurped Brennon Eldred for the victory. Dirty Sancho bucked Cerqueira off in 6.17 seconds in Round 2. A 3-for-3 performance would have netted him his first career victory.
Instead, Cerqueira will continue his push for Rookie of the Year in two weeks when the Unleash The Beast resumes with the PBR Wrangler Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, on Oct. 3-4 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Cerqueira is tentatively in the draw for the Casper, Wyoming, Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event on Oct. 2 as well.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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